Favorite Local Dining
Your visit to Wilmington or Wrightsville Beach just isn’t complete without at least one breakfast (served from 6 a.m until 2:30 p.m. 7 days a week) at Causeway Cafe, located just over the drawbridge from the beach. It ‘s such a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike, plan to spend time waiting for a table. Fresh seafood omelets are very popular. My favorite item is the “Eggs Neptune,” (just like Eggs Benedict but with local Blue Crab instead of Canadian bacon.) Also try their fried pickles and fried green tomatoes. (Lunch sandwiches and wraps also available.)
The Oceanic is the only restaurant in Wrightsville Beach, NC situated on the beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A favorite for locals and tourists, be sure to ask for a seat on the umbrella covered pier where you can watch sunbathers, surfers, kites, and windsurfers and enjoy the fresh Atlantic breeze. For starters they are known for their She-Crab soup. As an entrée, their three- shrimp platter is awesome.The Crystal Pier attached to Oceanic provides great outdoor seating and sets the stage for outdoor music when the weather permits. Not to be outdone by the view, our chef’s culinary expertise has inspired many signature dishes that keep our guests coming back.
Located on the Intracoastal Waterway just minutes from Wrightsville Beach, this restaurant offers relaxing dining and gorgeous views from its three-story high building. Enjoy local favorites such as coconut shrimp, jerk chicken and homemade salsa.
Trolly Stop Hot Dogs
Another local favorite located at Wrightsville Beach and downtown Wilmington is The Trolly Stop. Hot dogs are named after local tourist spots. Try : the North Carolina with mustard, chili, and coleslaw; the Wrightsville Beach with mustard secret sauce, onions & cheese, and diced to tomatoes, or the Battleship with mustard, salsa, onions and diced tomatoes. Or choose your own version.
The German Cafe
If you love authentic German cuisine. this is the place for you. Located in the Cotton Exchange in downtown Wilmington, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Everything from their Veal Schnitzel to their Rueben sandwich and authentic European tortes and pasties are mouth-watering. And if you just need a snack–pick up their to-go size of the Apple or Cherry Strudel!
With truly authentic Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, this is not your typical Thai restaurant. The minute you step foot in the door, you will be transported to a culture and setting far from home. My favorite seating (weather permitting) is the outdoor Asian garden with individual thatched huts, a bar, and walkway to enjoy the tropical garden setting. The beautifully prepared dishes are a culinary delight for the eyes and taste buds. Some favorites include the Shrimp and Scallops in a Nest,
Upscale Dining Reviews
(by Sarah Chambers–Southern-Traveller’s Food & Wine Editor)
When downtown looking for a romantic setting, stop into Aubrianas for their upscale American cuisine. If the weather cooperates make sure to ask for courtyard seating, which often is accompanied by live music. While here make sure to create your own four-course meal starting with the blackened lamb lollipops. As a restaurant known for their specials, make sure to listen closely to their seasonal salad selections. A favorite is one seen mostly in the summer, containing mixed greens, toasted almonds, blackberries, strawberries, blue cheese crumbles, and a raspberry champagne vinaigrette. Continue your meal with Chef Alexander’s Sunburst Mahi, but make sure to leave room for dessert. With the best dessert selection in town, don’t leave with out trying the double chocolate peanut butter pie or one of their several cheesecakes.
The Fortunate Glass
Whether you are a wine connoisseur or just learning about all the different varietals, don’t leave Wilmington before you have a chance to sip and relax at The Fortunate Glass. Boasting 50 wines by the glass, 300 wines by the bottle, and 50 craft beers, there is something for everyone, at every price point. If you’re new to the wine scene, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Their knowledgeable staff can serve you your favorite wine or help you find a new one. One of the best things about wine is being able to pair it with your meal. Here they do this perfectly with their selections of fine Italian cured meats, cheeses, small plates, and desserts. Unsure how to pair? Once again, the staff will be happy to make recommendations.
Although reservations are not required, be sure to call ahead to reserve a private two-person balcony overlooking the Cape Fear River at Riverboat Landing. If you wish to share a meal with a larger group, their dinning is available for larger parties. To start off your meal, the crab dip is a popular appetizer as well as the Bayou shrimp. An entrée, which always pleases, is the pan seared diver scallops with arugula, fennel mandarin dressed in lemon & olive oil. If red meat is what you’re craving, they do offer several cuts of USDA choice beef with many sauces and topping to choose from.
Advertised as ‘casual upscale dining,’ Deluxe is one of the few restaurants in Wilmington offering New American style cuisine. Allow plenty of time to savor their menu and wine list, as this meal is not to be rushed. I decided to go with the recommendations of our server, and he was spot on. I would recommend starting with the cornmeal encrusted Atlantic oysters which has apple-wood smoked bacon, spinach leaves, roasted grape tomato, béarnaise aioli & Creole mustard vinaigrette. These are easily the best oysters in Wilmington, possibly even on the east coast. Next, give the deluxe salad a try. With its organic greens, Gorgonzola cheese, d’anjou pear, ancho chile pecans and roasted shallot vinaigrette, it is a light and refreshing second course. If you’re in the mood for seafood, don’t leave without trying the luxe paella. This dish consists of a Prince Edward Island Lobster tail, day boat jumbo scallops, jumbo lump blue crab, chorizo sausage, saffron infused risotto and vegetable cake, garlic aioli, and grilled crostini. Of all the food Wilmington has to offer, this is easily one of the best meals I have had.